Monday, 9 March 2015

So what about your Inner Critic?

WIP - Still - detail - oil on linen ©2015 Carol Lee Beckx

Frequently during my classes, my students express despair, saying:
“My work is no good - I’ll never be any good.”

This often happens when we are looking at the work of other artists for inspiration. 
It's crucial to be able to self-compare rather than compare oneself to others - especially when you are looking at work by someone who has been working at their art for years. 

Today's society plays its part in this lack of confidence. The emphasis is so much on "success", "achievement" and being the "best" that we lose sight of the pleasure of doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it. 

We are also masters of self-deprecation - “Oh I’m no good” and “This is rubbish” Are we being totally honest or are we secretly looking for praise but don’t want to be considered vain?

It's important to differentiate between being self-critical and looking at your work with a critical eye. Just as one shouldn't be too hard on oneself and one's efforts, I believe that simply accepting everything you do as "good" or "bad" in an almost knee-jerk reaction will prevent you from developing to the best of your potential.

It's important that one should learn to see where parts could be changed, improved or edited out. This is particularly true if you work on your own without any support structure. 

If you have a group of artists that you can turn to for communal sessions to share each other's work this collaboration will help give you insight into your work. 


One cannot always rely on family members to provide useful feedback. Automatic approval is lovely but not really helpful. Try to encourage them to give constructive criticism if they are interested in helping.
If your family is the kind that say: "but that doesn't look like..." and constantly make negative comments, encourage them to make one positive comment first before they point out the faults.

Here are a few practical suggestions to help assess your drawings and paintings:
  • Work first, judge later. 
  • Wait until you have done a fair amount of the project before you do any assessment. It's better to keep going, especially when embarking on a new project or when trying a different medium.
  • If you are working in a sketchbook resist the temptation to tear out a page that falls short of your ideal.
  • Date the work, turn the page and do another.
  • If it's a painting on canvas or paper turn it upside down for a fresh view
  • Look at the painting in a mirror and you'll see a different view.
  • Make sure you step away from the easel, if you're too close you lose sight of the big picture.

Listen to Ira Glass…talking about creativity.

P.S. Sorry to tease with another detail of this painting. 
Still is almost complete - it's taken a while but I have really enjoyed painting it - I think I don't want to stop...